The Heavens Declare
By Jim Brigleb
From our backyard, we watch the various aircraft approaching Grant County International Airport. I’m consistently amazed that such large structures can fly so slowly, and yet stay aloft. They often appear to be floating!
The observation led me to researching the statistics of the Boeing Globemaster III, the C-17. Including its own weight, plus fuel, crew and cargo, the C-17 flies with a total payload limit of 585,000 pounds. That’s 292.5 tons. For comparison, a full-size school bus weighs 12.5 tons. So, try to picture this: park 6 school buses next to one another, almost touching. Then, using a crane (in your mind), put another 6 on top of the first 6. Repeat this for a third row. Then, repeat for a fourth row. Oops, that’s one bus too many… remove 1 bus, for a total of 23. There, you have the equivalent weight of the C-17 with full payload. So far, so good. Ready for your next task? Good. Make this pile of school buses fly, as one, composite unit.
Imagine, if you can, that we hadn’t reached the point in discovering the possibility of flight. We only had land-based vehicles. Along comes this guy named Daniel Bernoulli – a Swiss mathematician. Daniel goes about trying to convince people, using math and physics, that it’s possible, through producing a “wing” with a certain design, that he could make school buses fly. Not only that, but he’s pretty sure he could make the weight of 23 buses fly. Tough sell. The point is, we take the C-17 for granted. It’s up in the air, doing its thing, day after day – no big deal. However, if we could take it back in time, and land, say, on the dusty street of Tombstone, Arizona, right before the big gunfight at O.K. Corral – well, that would have caused quite a stir. (For one thing, the movie would have been quite different.)
Much of what the New Testament foretells about the End Times is difficult for us to conceptualize. We try to use our current base of knowledge and experience, and make sense of things we have not yet witnessed. What will the Rapture look like? Do our clothes fall out of the sky, like some movies portray? Will the “Mark of the Beast” be a tattoo… or a chip… or what?
How does Jesus hold seven stars, and there is a sword in His mouth? Though out of context, I often fall back on 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully…”
Though I strive to understand, and I dearly want to have the “Big Picture,” our Lord has given us a glimpse to know in part. The pieces are tough to get into a crystal-clear focus (we see in a mirror dimly). Still, how can these apparent impossibilities come to pass? Is this just blind faith on our part that they will? Somehow?
Not too long ago, Pastor Dave offered a class based on the book How Now Shall We Live? (Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey). A chapter provided a wealth of information on the intricacy of our universe, and discussed what is referred to as the anthropic principle. This principle is derived from scientific study illuminating the perfect design of the heavens and earth, allowing us to exist. For example, earth is precisely the distance from the sun which allows water to remain liquid – neither perennially freezing nor boiling. Our bodies, while somewhat able to adjust, would not be able to survive in conditions colder or hotter than what the earth offers, thanks to distance from the sun, the earth’s rotation on its axis, and revolution through our solar system. Freezing water, ice, is less dense as a solid than when liquid – therefore ice forms at the top of lakes and oceans, allowing marine life to exist underneath. Cosmologist, Paul Davies, explains that the Big Bang occurred with precisely the right amount of velocity, preventing the mass from collapsing on itself due to gravitational forces, and yet not with too much velocity which would have resulted in matter flying apart so violently that formation of galaxies would have been impossible. The list goes on, all contributing to the conclusion that our existence is not accidental; there is a VERY long list of conditions that are “just so,” verifying that God’s blueprint is the design of our universe, life, and the conditions which allow it.
Too often, I pay lip service to God’s Creation. I gaze at the miracle of a spectacular sunrise or sunset, and make mention of God’s handiwork. And then, I go back to worrying about some crisis such as, “How am I going to prepare for the inflation and food shortages the experts tell us are just around the corner? Does God know there is going to be a food shortage? If so, why doesn’t He tell me what to do?” Well actually, He does.
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?... your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” Matthew 6:25-27, 32-33.
Mankind developed structures that are capable of staying aloft, though they weigh almost 293 tons. That’s impressive! Yet, it is God who provides an atmosphere that flows over and under the wing, the raw materials to manufacture the plane, and gave us the ability to observe, think, and create. A C-17 is, indeed, a marvel. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the atom, or the intricacy of a single cell that divides into 37.2 trillion specialized cells that make up our body – each with distinct functions, replicating themselves without our directive.
The crux of this matter? Do I trust God for my (our) future? It’s easy to gloss over the promise to the birds of the air, and the flowers of the field. Are they not intricate? Birds with eyes that detect insects the size of a flea from 60 feet distance, have hollow bones, and some migrate (the Arctic Tern) nearly 56,000 miles per year. And plants, with the ability by their cellular structure, to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, and transport those upwards from one cell to the next, being drawn by the evaporative effect of sunlight (transpiration); simultaneously converting carbon dioxide (what animals exhale and plants absorb) into oxygen (what animals require, and plants provide). God designed this relationship! And God sustains it!
Even as I write this, I hear God saying, “My, child… why do you fret? I am the Maker of Heaven and Earth. The stars in the heaven, I call them by name. I made each and every one and assign them their places. Not one particle in the universe exists without my Word. I have spoken all into existence. Rest in Me, all you who are heavy laden. I will give you rest.”